Haeron the Magician had all that a magician could possibly want. He had the floor-length robe, the pointy shoes, the spell book. His horse plodded through the forest, each steady thump of the hooves pulling the wide brim of his pointed hat over his eyes. He smiled, replacing it properly with a proud flourish. He even had the hat.

As his horse, Morris, trotted beneath him, Haeron casually let loose a bolt of lightning from the palm of his hand, smirking when it struck a tree. He watched it burn for a while, the pine scent smoldering in the air and the flames crackling from one branch to the branches of the next trees over. Pleased with himself, he gave a negligent throw of his hand, and swept the flames above the canopy so they sparked weakly in the air for a second before winking out. Morris shook his head disapprovingly, but continued on, his rolling body swaying Haeron's hips in a confident gait. The magician had his chest thrust forward, and between two of his fingers he held a slip of Morris's mane.

Haeron was on a special mission, assigned him by The King himself. That was, of course, because Heron was, by far, the best magician in all of Terine. The mission itself was a bit too simple for him, but at least the Kingdom would be in his debt. All he had to do was walk up to the border between Terine and Mahdia, leave a few nasty traps (of his choosing) for those border-hopping elves, and be on his way. Then the Kingdom's problem with illegal elven hawkers on the market would be taken care of, and he would be heavily rewarded. Haeron squared back his shoulders and raised one corner of his mouth in a half-smile. He had a few fun things up his sleeve that would please The King for certain.

Morris finally tossed a look over to his rider, his nostrils flaring lightly.

"What are you planning now, Haeron?" he sighed, turning his head back in a swish of blonde mane. "Please don't make this mission any more complicated than it has to be. You don't want to get into trouble with a bunch as mysterious as the elves."

"Words of Wisdom, truly," Haeron retorted with smug disdain. "But I'm not going to worry over the elves. Remember what King Sagis said? They're weaklings, practically infirm. You know that The King knows the elves better than anyone. One little fire trap and they're never going to step over that border again."

Morris shook his mane dispiritedly. "But you're not going to leave it at a fire trap, are you?"

Haeron grinned. "I've got to have a little fun with this." He raised the length of mane he held, poising his hand sophisticatedly. "It will be fine, Morris. You worry too much."

The horse exhaled in a long sigh, resignation weighing his every step into the soft, dark earth of the forest floor. Drops of old rainwater slithered off low branches and landed on the circular brim of Haeron's hat.

"I just don't like this mission idea. Since when do you go on missions?"

Haeron jabbed the heel of his shoe into Morris's side indignantly, ignoring the protesting whinny that followed.

"I've had this a long time coming, you know," he spoke loftily. "I'm the most skilled magician in all of Terine—maybe even the whole world—and finally the Kingdom is starting to appreciate it. I'm an irreplaceable asset."

"You're an irreplaceable ass, all right," the horse mumbled, earning another kick in his belly. Haeron left it at that with a small "hmmph," before resuming his illustrious explanation.

"Really, how many people are so well trained in magic, Morris?" He opened his thick spell book. "See this book, Morris?"

Morris had already seen it enough.

"I've memorized and mastered nearly every spell in here. Nearly every spell. How many magicians can boast that? I'm a natural, that's what Professor Kindi always said, remember? Said I would be better than him someday." Haeron raised his chin haughtily at the memory. "And look at me now. You saw me burn that tree back there with my lightning, didn't you, Morris?"

Morris exhaled heavily.

"I did."

Satisfied, Haeron closed his book and placed it in the space between him and Morris's neck. He didn't want to leave it in the saddlebag unprotected. He and Morris rode on, Haeron's hand still carefully caught in a lock of Morris's mane, as if to guide the horse, though Morris likely knew his way to the border better than Haeron did. With bright eyes and a lopsided smirk, the best magician and his horse sauntered toward a definite victory.